Engaging Students in the Making of Good New Ideas
Module Three - The Crucial Role of Questions
How might questions and questioning provoke inquiry that produces new understandings?

Questions of Import

The first step in fighting against simple cut-and-paste thinking is to gather all teachers together to discuss and adopt a school-wide policy outlawing the assignment of topical research projects.

"Students in this school will conduct research on questions of import that require they make answers rather than find them. We will no longer assign topical research or accept papers that are little more than a rehash of other people's ideas and thinking."

Browse the article, "Beyond Cut-and-Paste: Engaging Students in Wrestling with Questions of Import" in order to develop a clear notion of how such questions put students in a position where original thought and synthesis is required.

Create a section in your learning log where you can sketch out your personal definition of Questions of Import.

Consider the following list as examples of Questions of Import:

Biography Questions of Import

1. In what ways was the life remarkable?
2. In what ways was the life despicable?
3. In what ways was the life admirable?
4. What human qualities were most influential in shaping the way this person lived and influenced his or her times?
5. Which quality or trait proved most troubling and difficult?
6. Which quality or trait was most beneficial?
7. Did this person make any major mistakes or bad decisions? If so, what were they and how would you have chosen and acted differently if you were in their shoes?
8. What are the two or three most important lessons you or any other young person might learn from the way this person lived?
9. Some people say you can judge the quality of a person's life by the enemies they make. Do you think this is true of your person's life? Explain why or why not.
10. An older person or mentor is often very important in shaping the lives of gifted people by providing guidance and encouragement. To what extent was this true of your person? Explain.
11. Many people act out of a "code" or a set of beliefs which dictate choices. It may be religion or politics or a personal philosophy. To what extent did your person act by a code or act independently of any set of beliefs? Were there times when the code was challenged and impossible to follow?
12. What do you think it means to be a hero? Was your person a "hero?" Why? Why not? How is a hero different from a celebrity?
Source: The Biography Maker at http://fno.org/bio/biomaker.htm

Questions of Import Across the Disciplines

"The Great Question Press: Squeezing Import from Content" was written to assist teachers with the task of converting traditional school research into something much more challenging. Consider how these questions might require original thought from your students.

Enter some of the more promising questions from "The Great Question Press" in your learning log.

Please do not move to next module until instructed to do so by the facilitator.

© Jamie McKenzie, 2008, all rights reserved. No copies can be made or distributed in any format without the express written permission of the author.